JHAPA, June 23:Early on Wednesday, security personnel deployed at the border transit point of Kakarbhitta in Jhapa district prevented a group of women from entering India. Police suspected that they were being trafficked and started interrogating them.
"None of them carried any identifying documents such as citizenship certificates or passports. And they were not familiar with the person who was taking them to India," said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shyam Krishna Adhikari, chief of District Police Office (DPO) Jhapa.
Initially, everyone in the group cited different reasons for going to India, according to Adhikari. "They, however, changed their stories after a few hours of interrogation. And it emerged that they were heading for India to sell their kidneys," he said.
According to DSP Adhikari, none of the women had informed their families about their travel plans. The women informed police that they were supposed to meet their agent at Panitanki, West Bengal.
Such incidents are becoming common at the border transit points, according to police. Dozens of people try to cross the border every day to sell their kidneys.
It has come to light that human traffickers, who once used to sell women into the flesh trade in the cities of India, have turned their attention to the kidney trade of late. They lure people into selling their kidneys with promises of large sums of money, according to the police. Swindlers persuade them that there will be no deterioration in their health.
Most of those selling their kidneys are poverty-stricken people from the western hills and some other districts, including Makawanpur, Dhading and Sindhupalchowk, according to police records.
Kakarbhitta has become the main transit point for human trafficking in the kidney trade. However, the middlemen hardly ever get caught as they tell their victims to meet them in nearby Indian towns and cities and avoid travelling with them.
Under Nepali law, kidney transplant is allowed only between close relatives.
Just a few months ago, Maiti Nepal, the NGO which works against human trafficking, rescued four women from Sindhupalchow district in Kakarbhitta. They openly confessed that they were heading to India to sell their kidneys.
"Middlemen take advantage of their illiteracy and poverty and feed them false information. The four women were told that their kidneys would grow back in no time," said Govinda Ghimire, chief of Maiti Nepal's Eastern Development Region (EDR) office. "They did not believe us when we provided them correct information," he added.
According to Ghimire, men, women and children who have a history of family disputes and need to make some quick money have been falling prey to such traffickers.
A total of 152 women and children have been rescued from the border in a four-month period from January to April, according to data provided by Maiti Nepal.